A Condemned Generation

By Nani Wachhaus


When you have a Yiddish grandmother there's

a sense of cold. Of frost on the window and

ice on the ground. Skin cracks as chill sets in. Walking

away from the warmth of walls and into the

cold air. Cheeks turn red and lips fade into blue. Fingers

swollen and toes turning black. Fog from open, hungry

mouths in the air. Keep the song inside.


When you have a Yiddish grandmother there's

no doubt of a less pleasant life. The walk was hard, the beds

even harder. Sleep sets into bones and sits beside

the cold. Yellow stars fall from on high and litter sleeves. Here's the new

uniform, wear it well, even if it doesn't fit. Here's a number, hand over a

name. Humanity is a stolen luxury. Keep singing. There's unity

in small rebellions.


When you have a Yiddish grandmother it's

accepted that the old must pass before the new. A desert that

no one's been to, but 40 years of feet have crossed. Heat

flares through soles, sand-caked nostrils, and

over cracked lips. There's always a punishment for golden shapes. The

march is the same. Cold and hot are the same

inescapable gnaw. Be thankful the song is steady.  


When you have a Yiddish grandmother there's

no mistaking the song. No mistaking the march. It's felt in

the toughness of feet and in the pounding of a heart

filled with chilling hatred and sweltering fear. No mistaking

the strength that it took to outlive everyone

else. No mistaking that the Tree of Life sprouts from the bodies

reaped in the harvest.


Nani Wachhaus is a senior creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy. She is from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, but has recently moved to Baltimore, Maryland. As all of her friends and relatives know, Nani has to restrain herself from forcefully recommending The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, to those around her. Nani is the winner of a Silver Medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and was published in the 2014 edition of The Interlochen Review. Nani is currently co-Editor-in-Chief for The Interlochen Review. She will attend the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the fall.